Thursday, August 11, 2011

Santanu-shaped hole in my life.

I've been down with Falciparum Malaria the last few days and much as I tried no happy post ideas were coming to me. Finally I decided to write about my buddy Santanu - a beacon of joy and happiness.

Santanu's is not an ordinary story though it has all the trappings of the ordinary mundane pursuits of everyday life. His was a character that shone through. We met in college, his major was Chemistry and mine was English. There was absolutely no reason for our paths to cross but cross they did and we hit it of like a tree on fire from the moment we met.

We had similar yet dissimilar interests. Similar enough for our friendship to deepen and dissimilar enough for it to be interesting. Let's say that college would not have been a memorable part of my life had it not been for him.

It is common for people to say that Santanu met friends like sales targets. He knew his time was limited and connected with friends every given opportunity he could. If he wasn't meeting or helping someone out then he was on the cellphone making plans for the next meeting or helping the next soul. Now that doesn't mean that he was all 'give' and no 'take'. As a matter of fact he was the second most demanding person in my life, after the wife of course. But he demanded from select very few and I was honored to be in that list.

He divided his friends in what he called 'circles' long before Google thought of it. And he often stated very clearly that I had the fortune and misfortune of being in the innermost circle. Though he threatened to throw me out every given instance, and he said that I had to work hard to stay in, I knew I had no choice.

Our experiences of growing up, traveling and experiencing life together would fill a book but that does not mean that he was the be all and end all of my life. On the contrary my life was complete without him, he was a most beautiful addition to it. If I did not meet him for months on end or didn't speak to him for days nothing changed. Nothing seemed to break the continuity of our connection.

Santanu met with a road accident in Bangalore last year, took me a day to rush to his side to see him lying in the hospital unconscious. No amount of coaxing, cajoling and praying did anything to bring him back to life. He was on the ventilator and refused to let go. After about four days of trying in vain his father, a broken man, asked me to leave and said 'Go, or he won't.'
So I left and he did too.

It did not stop life for me. It did not alter my everyday routine in any way. But it left a big gaping hole in my heart which I'm still trying to fill and hope that it never does.

A life like his taught me many things. Things that we all know and read about but hardly apply in our everyday lives.

Time is limited.
Santanu knew that and that was the reason why he slept less than 5 hours a day and spent the rest of his time either studying, working or socializing. The last part being the most important for him. He had tens of friends in every corner of the country and the world and he stayed up to speak to someone in a different timezone. He invested in his friends heavily and was heartbroken if someone failed to meet his expectations. He was Carpe Diem personified.

Love is as much give as it is take. 
Santanu loved his family and his closest friends with great ardor and had them all prioritized in a list. Literally.
He did not let anyone he loved take him for granted nor did he do the same to you. He was out there demanding things and giving in to your demands. He had once forced me to fly to Bombay to see him there as he was feeling lonely. As soon as I met him at the airport he took out a file in which he had an hour by hour plan of my entire stay there. It was backbreaking but oodles of fun. He invested in his friends and demanded the same out of them. Some of them at least.

You may have a thousand friends on Facebook but if you don't have one on call you have nothing.
Santanu never really understood or made use of social networks. I guess he didn't need to. He was Facebook incarnate and yet I knew that f I ever needed anything in life this was a rock solid fellow I had as a support system. And he made me aspire to be the same for him.

His last email to me a few hours, before he met with the fatal accident, was a comment he made when I invited him for a documentary viewing. He said,
'I like these things you do. They're very classy and go a long way in building the brand.'

His love for me and faith in everything I did was a strong driving force for me.
His story will stay with me for life.
And I would like to believe that my life is complete without him but know in my heart of hearts that it will never be.

Miss you brother!

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